Emceeing and hosting are critical skills for large virtual conferences. Make sure you select someone who has these skills. If you do not have someone available with the skills, consider using a professional emcee (MC). Here's how to apply the ENGAGE method to selecting your virtual MC or host.
One of the most important skills is your MC's ability to engage with every attendee. Make sure your MC is warm, friendly, and inviting. Your MC should make sure they are encouraging the right virtual engagement tool at the right time.
Have your MC work with you and your committee as if you were the attendees.
Pretend you're an attendee who doesn't want to talk.
Make sure your MC knows the right level of engagement for your audience and isn't perceived as too much or not enough.
How well does your MC work with your team? Great MCs will ask for the agenda long in advance. MCs should research their speakers and be ready with great introductions. Your MC needs to work well with your producer and speakers to keep engagement up.
Your MC needs to care how they look. From their appearance and professional clothing to their background and microphone, a great MC should set the standard for good looks and be capable of coaching your speakers and attendees.
Have your MC announce the next speaker and watch for smooth transitions.
Have a speaker mute during their speech and see how your MC handles it.
Play a video with no sound and see how your MC handles it.
Your MC needs to be able to fill any amount of time with information that is relevant with your attendees and techniques that are appropriate for your audience.
Your MC needs to be familiar with your virtual tools. You do not want to hire an exclusively Zoom MC for a Microsoft Teams conference. Knowing the virtual tools you selected for your virtual conference will make sure the MC can use those tools to create engagement on your virtual platform.
Look for MCs who bring energy. MCs will suggest engagement techniques that will help bring a boost after a long keynote. MCs will interact with the audience and get them to follow, such as applauding for a speaker. MCs have the ability to present or tell stories. By telling the right story at the right time, an MC can bring the education to an emotional level to help attendees retain more. MCs can facilitate learning. They can ask questions, get reactions from co-hosts and subject matter experts, and use gamification to test for retention. Most of all, MCs are fun. They can take any material and make it engaging and fun to learn. MCs plan and find a way to end your conference on a high note. Virtual MC Thom Singer is a unique MC who closes only with the material contained in the conference. He does not know what the keynote will be when the conference starts, but he curates the closing keynote from what happened and he creates engagement by customizing his closing keynote only with material that attendees have experienced.
Hoan Do is a virtual MC. He's a professional speaker. He is an award-winning inspirational speaker, author, and city finalist in NBC's hit show American Ninja Warrior. He shares his experience in being the virtual MC for a conference: